With great sorrow, we announce the passing (suddenly) of Dr. Edith Mitchell on January 21, 2024, while returning from a GI cancer research meeting in San Francisco.
As all of our members are aware, Dr. Mitchell (pictured at right) was a giant presence in ECOG-ACRIN for more than 30 years. Distinguished as a GI and breast cancer medical oncology researcher, teacher, and doctor, she brought awareness of racial disparities and the need for inclusiveness to the attention of our community.
Together with Dr. Comis, the Chair of ECOG at the time some 25 years ago, she developed the Underserved Populations Committee (today our Health Equity Committee). This was the first committee in oncology dedicated to increasing representation across all aspects of our activities, and it included researchers, caregivers, research staff, and most important, patients who entered our trials.
Dr. Mitchell’s efforts gained national support, and she went on to advise Presidents, government entities (including NIH and NCI), major medical societies, and private sector companies. She did not, however, lose sight of the details that underlie success: she worked with the National Medical Association to broaden the participation of Black physicians and patients in cancer trials (and later became President of the Association).
She led a focus on early career development of minority/under-represented students, physicians and trainees to educate and enfold them in an awareness of potential careers in our field. The success of this program, established in 2017, led to its naming in 2023 as the Edith Peterson Mitchell, MD Health Equity Travel Scholarships.
She spent countless hours reaching out to disparate communities to bring patients to state-of-the-art prevention and screening trials, especially in breast and prostate cancers. Along with Dr. Melissa Simon, Chair of the Health Equity Committee, she has forged a renewed emphasis on disparities research.
Our thoughts are with Dr. Mitchell’s family, who have always been present in her many activities, and our deepest sympathy is with them today.
Peter J. O’Dwyer, MD and Mitchell D. Schnall, MD, PhD